Hot Licks on a Hot Summer Night

Hot Licks on a Hot Summer Night

Summer concert series hits Kingstowne Shopping Center and Lee District Park.

Over 200 people gathered at Kingstowne Shopping Center Friday evening, June 8 for the third show in the Lee District Nights Concert Series. "This is nothing," said Kelly Keys, who is the sound technician at the Lee District shows, noting that after the school year ends, crowds will grow considerably.

The evening’s performance was by the Fabulettes, who recall the music of the ‘60s both in song selection and dress. In the Lee District Nights series, concerts take place each Friday at the Kingstowne Center and every Wednesday at the nearby Lee District Amphitheater, from the first week in June through the last week in August. Different bands, representing a wide variety of genres, play each show.

Elaine Thompson, one of the event coordinators for the Fairfax County Park Authority, noted that about 300 people had attended last Wednesday’s concert by Americana singer/song writer Bill Kirchen at the amphitheater. However, she said, the Kingstowne venue tends to draw the largest crowds because concert-goers can avail themselves of the nearby eateries and the movie theater, and because the shows are on Fridays.

Keys noted that the series "works to the benefit of the businesses here. A lot of people watch the concert and go right to the movies or to eat."

After school is out, some 500 to 800 concert-goers show up each week at Kingstowne, said Sousan Frankenberger, the Park Authority’s head coordinator for the county’s Summer Entertainment Series. She noted that the venue is one of only two locations used in the countywide entertainment series that are not on park land.

Some parks had been hosting occasional summertime music performances for some time before 2001, when various district supervisors became interested in bringing more shows into their districts, said Frankenberger. This was when Lee District Park began offering concerts. "After two years, it was very successful, and the Kingstowne homeowners association approached [Supervisor] Dana Kauffman (D-Lee)," Frankenberger recalled. The Kingstowne Residential Owners Corporation asked to bring a summer concert series into its planned community, and the series was born in 2003.

Frankenberger noted that all of the shows in the Summer Entertainment Series are completely paid for by corporate sponsorships. However, she said, for the Kingstowne series, "We’ve been running into a little bit of a problem raising money, and if we can’t raise the funds, we might not be able to continue the series next year."